Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 2 December 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Zoom's market cap now more than the world's biggest seven airlines combined

The video conferencing app's popularity has skyrocketed as Covid-19 wipes out demand for air travel

Zoom Video's chief executive Eric Yuan takes part in the Nasdaq bell-ringing ceremony after his company's IPO in New York in April, last year. AP
Zoom Video's chief executive Eric Yuan takes part in the Nasdaq bell-ringing ceremony after his company's IPO in New York in April, last year. AP

Zoom Video Communications, the video conferencing provider which gained popularity in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, is now worth more than the world's biggest seven airlines, underscoring a dramatic divergence of fortunes between teleconferencing apps and the travel industry.

Zoom's market capitalisation has skyrocketed to $48.8 billion (Dh179bn) in May, compared to a valuation of $46.2bn of the world's top airlines by revenue including Southwest Airlines, Delta, United, IAG, Lufthansa, American, and Air France.

The US-based conferencing app, which went public in April 2019, has become one of the most downloaded apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store, as lockdown measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus forced companies to work from home using teleconferencing.

By contrast, the travel restrictions have taken their toll on the aviation industry, resulting in a plunge in the market cap of its biggest players in the US and Europe.

While the demand for teleconferencing has jumped dramatically worldwide as companies connect with their employees and clients online, global air travel has come grinding to a near-standstill.

The popularity of the teleconferencing app seems to underscore concerns that business travel will be slow to bounce back after the coronavirus has been contained.

The pandemic has transformed corporate norms of working and normalised the idea of working from home, accelerating years of digital transformation within the span of a few months.

Others argue that technology cannot eliminate the need for face-to-face interactions, especially in critical business situations such as closing the final deal.

Zoom v airlines capitalisation and stock performance.
Zoom v airlines capitalisation and stock performance.

It remains to be seen whether Zoom's recent success will last beyond the pandemic. Already the app's security measures have come under scrutiny after a series of incidents where uninvited people have hijacked meetings. That led to many companies and governments to ban their employees from using the app.

Meanwhile, as governments begin to ease lockdowns, the aviation industry is beginning to outline a roadmap for the restart of air travel by proposing new harmonised measures for airports and airlines based on scientific evidence.

Updated: May 21, 2020 03:21 PM

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